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Class Action Lawsuits

Uptown People's Law Center has six class action lawsuits filed against the Illinois Department of Corrections. These lawsuits will ultimately change the prison system in Illinois for the better. To learn more about a case, click on the name. 


Money v. Pritzker: COVID-19, Call to Release Vulnerable Prisoners

In response to the swiftly spreading coronavirus epidemic in Illinois' prisons, a consortium of the area's leading civil rights attorneys and community advocates filed three cases seeking release of prisoners. By dragging its feet in the face of the pandemic, IDOC and Illinois' political leaders are putting prisoners, prison staff and the general public at greater risk of severe illness and death.

Rasho v. Jeffreys: Mental Health Care

The Illinois Department of Corrections (IDOC) punishes prisoners with mental illness, rather than properly treating them, and the treatment that is available is grossly inadequate. In May 2016, we entered into a settlement agreement with IDOC to completely revamp the way people with serious mental illnesses are treated in Illinois prisons. 

Lippert v. Jeffreys: Medical Care

Health care in Illinois prisons is so inadequate that it constitutes cruel and unusual punishment. We are suing the Illinois Department of Corrections to fix the medical and dental care provided to Illinois prisoners. 

Holmes v. Jeffreys: Deaf and Hard of Hearing Prisoners

Uptown People's Law Center is suing the Illinois Department of Corrections for failing to provide Deaf and hard of hearing prisoners with interpreters, hearing aids, or other assistive devices, thus depriving them of meaningful access to medical appointments, religious services, disciplinary hearings, and many other vital interactions with staff. 

Davis v. Jeffreys: Solitary Confinement

Illinois prisoners are confined, often for 24 hours a day, to small, airless cells with no natural light, reduced food, and minimal yard time. Many are held in this extreme isolation for years. We are suing the Illinois Department of Corrections to end this cruel and unusual punishment. 

Morales v. Monreal: Parole Revocation

In October 2016, we settled a case that now requires Illinois to provide attorneys and adequate hearings to eligible parolees accused of violating parole. We are now monitoring the implementation of the settlement agreement. 

Ross v. Gossett: Excessive Force

Uptown People's Law Center is suing the Illinois Department of Corrections on behalf of hundreds of prisoners who experienced excessive force, and physical and sexual assault at the hands of an abusive team of correctional officers called the "Orange Crush tactical team."


Closed Cases:

Westefer v. Snyder: Closing Tamms Supermax Prison:

Tamms Supermax Prison housed hundreds of prisoners in round-the-clock solitary confinement. UPLC sued, stating that prisoners were sent to Tamms as retaliation for speaking out against the Illinois Department of Corrections. In 2010, the District Court ruled that every prisoner who had been sent to Tamms had been denied a hearing which complied with the minimum requirements of due process. UPLC then led the fight which, three years later, permanently closed the prison. 

MH v. Finley: Juvenile Parole

In January 2015, we settled a case that now requires Illinois to provide attorneys (at the state's expense) to juveniles who are accused of violating their parole. 


The effort includes a proposed class-action lawsuit filed Thursday in federal court, naming Gov. J.B. Pritzker and Rob Jeffreys, director of the Illinois Department of Corrections, as defendants.

The man was imprisoned at Stateville Correctional Center, where officials say there are now 12 men who are hospitalized, "including several requiring ventilators."

CHICAGO (WBBM NEWSRADIO) -- A day after the state announced one Illinois prison inmate had died of COVID-19 and that more inmates and staff had tested positive for the coronavirus, a legal services group is renewing its call for thousands of inmates to be released.

CHICAGO (WBBM NEWSRADIO) -- A day after the state announced one Illinois prison inmate had died of COVID-19 and that more inmates and staff had tested positive for the coronavirus, a legal services group is renewing its call for thousands of inmates to be released.

A man incarcerated at the Stateville Correctional Center in Crest Hill is among eight new deaths from the Coronavirus in Illinois, and 18 other inmates were taken to AMITA Health Saint Joseph Medical Center in Joliet, officials said.

Officials knew two weeks ago just what kind of crisis loomed outside the front doors of the sprawling Cook County Jail.

SPRINGFIELD, Ill. - Illinois officials on Monday reported the death of a state prison inmate from COVID-19 and acknowledged the difficulty they face in stopping the spread of the virus in a crowded correctional system.

Health officials announced Monday the death of a Stateville Correctional Center inmate from COVID-19, the first confirmed death from the disease at an Illinois state prison.

We must act quickly. We urge officials to promptly release detainees who can be released safely.

COOK COUNTY, Il -- The number of detainees at Cook County Jail with COVID-19 has risen to 38, Sheriff Tom Dartsaid Friday in a news conference.

CHICAGO (CBS) — As has been discussed for weeks, hospitals are expected to reach or exceed capacity during the coronavirus pandemic. And as cases of COVID-19 spread through prisons, medical resources you or a loved one might need at your local hospitals will be up for grabs.

Cook County Sheriff Tom Dart is slamming Illinois Gov. JB Prtizker’s decision to largely stop accepting new prisoners into the Illinois Department of Corrections, an attempt to slow the rapid spread of COVID-19 behind bars. Instead of going into state prisons, those detainees will be held in jails under the supervision of county sheriffs.

Prisoners are “especially vulnerable to contracting and spreading COVID-19,” Illinois Governor J. B. Pritzker wrote in his executive order.

The Illinois Department of Corrections will refuse to take in new prisoners, with very limited exceptions, as the state seeks to slow the spread of COVID-19 behind bars. An executive order halting new prison admissions was issued Thursday by Gov. JB Pritzker as a total of 12 corrections staff and prisoners have tested positive for COVID19.

Gov. J.B. Pritzker on Thursday issued an executive order halting new prisoners to the Illinois Department of Corrections amid the COVID-19 outbreak.

Three prisoners and three staff members have tested positive for COVID-19, according to the Illinois Department of Corrections. Health experts say cases of the disease in correctional facilities are particularly alarming because it can spread quickly in the crowded and often unsanitary conditions.

NEW YORK -- The board overseeing New York City's jails urged officials to start releasing vulnerable populations and those being held on low-level offenses as the coronavirus outbreak hit the notorious Rikers Island complex and nearby jails - infecting at least 38 people.

CHICAGO (CBS) — As the Illinois stay-at-home order approaches the one-day mark, Gov. JB Pritzker called on volunteers to step up Sunday amid the coronavirus pandemic.

Are Illinois prisons equipped to handle the COVID-19 pandemic? Gov. J.B. Pritzker’s answer to this question during his stop in Murphysboro on Wednesday hovered somewhere around maybe. The uncertainty he expressed brings into sharp relief the serious concerns around what would happen if any of the state’s already overcrowded penal institutions experience an outbreak.

Illinois prisons are a tinderbox for a potential coronavirus outbreak, but advocates and family of prisoners say the Department of Corrections isn’t providing the basic supplies to keep both staff and prisoners safe.

Illinois prisons are a tinderbox for a potential coronavirus outbreak, but advocates and family of prisoners say the Department of Corrections isn't providing the basic supplies to keep both staff and prisoners safe.

There have not yet been any cases of COVID-19 identified within the Cook County Jail, but the Sheriff’s Department says it’s taking additional steps to reduce the jail population in an effort to keep the deadly virus outside its walls as advocates have called for widespread release of detainees.

The Illinois Department of Corrections (IDOC) has been telling the press that it is passing out hand sanitizer, cleaning supplies and antibacterial soap to people incarcerated in its prisons as a preventative measure against the spread of coronavirus.

As alarm over the coronavirus pandemic continues to grow, corrections and law enforcement officials are grappling with the daunting prospect of having to manage an outbreak inside the walls of Illinois’ jails and prisons.

“We now have no idea what’s going on inside.”

There are nearly 7,800 incarcerated people in state prisons age 50 or older. Advocates say many, if not most, of them could be safely released to the public.

Transgender prisoners are almost never housed according to their identity, an investigation found.
That’s putting many in danger.

With an eye toward expansion, Southern Illinois School of Medicine plans to hire doctors to work in Illinois prisons, which are under pressure to improve health care that critics say amounts to cruel and unusual punishment.

The records of private companies that work with the state of Illinois may be a little more accessible following a decision this week from the state Supreme Court.

It's easy to underestimate the brutality of boredom, but people in prison will tell you that keeping your mind occupied is essential to survival. Paulette Fiedler, a 69-year-old prisoner at Logan Correctional Center in Illinois, keeps her mind alive by reading — she plows through book after book.

The Illinois Department of Corrections has revised its publication review policy to include a centralized appeal process for incarcerated people who feel they’ve been unfairly denied access to certain reading materials.

Even after a major class action suit required Illinois to revamp its prison healthcare system, doctors whose alleged neglect resulted in major injury or death still remain on the prison system payroll.

Illinois corrections officials have issued a sweeping new regulation that appears to prohibit prisoners from being sent materials downloaded from the internet.

Earlier this year, Danville prison removed about 200 books, many of which dealt with race issues. But the new rules don’t go far enough, says one advocate.

When recent news reports revealed that a number of Illinois Department of Corrections (IDOC) staff maintained a private Facebook group they used to dehumanize, taunt and degrade transgender prisoners and people of color, we were not surprised.

A Prisoner Review Board memo released in July requires a minimum of 12 hours of movement with ankle monitors, but some people say they’re still being given far less.

More than a dozen correctional employees in Illinois are under investigation after they were accused of mocking transgender inmates in private Facebook groups, state officials said.

At least 25 Illinois Department of Corrections employees have taken part in online conversations that mocked, demeaned, or disclosed personal and medical information about transgender inmates — including calling transgender women “it” and “he” — in two private Facebook groups, an Injustice Watch review has found.

Illinois Gov. JB Pritzker says his administration is committed to passing legislation that will promote transparency around prison deaths, even though the Illinois Department of Corrections under him opposed legislation in the spring that would have done just that. His office refuses to detail what concerns the administration had with that legislation or what fixes it would like to see included in any proposed bill, saying only that the office had “logistical concerns with the measure as written.”

What if prisons moved past archaic notions of “punishment” and shifted instead towards rehabilitation models? Stateville Calling explores the possibility of restoring incarcerated people’s lives, highlighting the personal narratives of elderly prisoners. Directed by Ben Kolak and produced by Yana Kunichoff, the hour-long documentary follows the current battle to pass legislation reinstating parole in Illinois, which the state hasn’t had since 1978.

The mass strip search was purportedly carried out as part of a cadet training exercise, meaning that the women were subjected to this humiliating violation without even the pretext of an immediate safety need.

Court interpreters are in high demand in Cook County, home to 743,200 people with limited English proficiency—around 15% of the population. But in recent years, the number of full-time interpreters has decreased. In 2014, the county had 34 full-time interpreters; now, there are 29.

While I know nothing about Epstein’s death in particular, I know a lot about suicide in jails and prisons. Prisons are toxic to mental health. They are places of violence.

Officials at an Illinois prison suspended an educational program for inmates, launched two internal investigations and removed 200 books from a prison library because many had “racial” content or addressed issues like diversity and inclusion, according to records obtained by the Tribune.

For nine and a half months, Lydia Thornton was locked into her cell nearly 24 hours a day. All of her meals were slid through a slot in the cell’s steel door. She was allowed outside to shower three times each week. Through cinderblock walls, she could hear women in adjoining cells screaming for hours on end. Sometimes they threatened to kill themselves, a threat often followed by an eerie silence.

Two House committees listened to testimony Monday from the Illinois Department of Corrections (IDOC) and other groups involving an incident in which books provided to educate prisoners at the Danville Correctional Center were seized from the library by prison staff.

CHICAGO — A transgender woman who was battling the Illinois Department of Corrections over alleged abuse while she was incarcerated has been released from prison, officials said Tuesday.

  • Kenneth & Harle Montgomery Foundation